In the long, storied tradition of The Teen Drama, there’s never been a show quite like Riverdale, which takes the famously wholesome Archie repertoire and drops them into a dark, steamy soap where innocence is a liability and everyone looks unfairly gorgeous. Join Chuck Winters, Andrew Niemann, and Robyn MacLeod as they break down the good, the bad, and the flat-out amazing in this week’s walk on RIVERDALE’S EDGE.
CHAPTER 15: “NIGHTHAWKS”
Written by: Michael Grassi (episode “Anatomy of a Murder”)
Directed by: Allison Anders (Gas Food Lodging, Things Behind the Sun, episode “In a Lonely Place”)
Chuck: So for whatever crazy shit that went down here, admittedly, this episode as a whole was…not that great? It has trouble hanging together in that way bad TV does.
Robyn: Another ep frontloaded with a lot of groundwork that’s pretty boring and will (hopefully) pay off later. It’s strange to me how much relationships seem to change scene to scene. One moment, Veronica and Hiram had palpable tension between them, the next it’s all flowers and puppies. Felt too convenient.
Andy: Yeah, I watched this episode twice and a lot of it felt like filler. I wonder if that’s a side effect of this season being longer than the first one and I hope that doesn’t continue to be the case. I think the main issue of this has to do with me not really understanding why the main diner plot was even happening.
Chuck: That’s the thing, I can see the intent of this episode, and we’ll get to it in a bit, but “Pop’s is in trouble and the kids rally to save it” was the kind of plot you’d center a classic long-form Archie around, and while it was cool to see Riverdale’s take on that, the circumstances really didn’t feel that natural.
Andy: Yeah it’s a classic set-up but I felt like it happened WAY too soon after the season premiere. The placement of this episode sucked all the air out of the balloon, I mean, until the very end of course.
Robyn: “Nothing’s happening, nothing’s happening… holy crap” is a pattern so far.
Way Down in the Hole
Andy: Holy shit, Reggie Mantle is a drug dealer now and guess what he’s REALLY bad at it!
Robyn: There is no one worse, except for those dealing to very obvious undercover cops. If Betty’s mom can crack that case, it’s incredibly obvious to everyone.
Andy: Alice Cooper is basically a cop.
Chuck: And greeting your newest customer in a hood after he just witnessed a guy in a hood shoot his father is just a really bad way to inspire customer loyalty.
The Only Thing That Can Stop a Black Hood With a Gun is a Well-Intentioned Speed-Addled Teen With a Gun
Chuck: Man, the best/worst thing about Reggie is how he constantly pushes Archie into the worst possible choices. Archie’s about to go talk to a counselor? “Nah, dude, what you need is some jingle-jangle to keep you going.” Reggie takes a baseball bat after sneaking up on Archie? “Dude, the real Hood has a gun, the fuck are you gonna do with that bat?”
Andy: Archie Get Your Gun. Sorry, had to make the obvious Broadway pun there.
Chuck: I know I said this was a show for theater kids, but I was thinking Aerosmith.
Robyn: I know Archie is a teen and that guns are real bad, but there was a lot of build-up and drama for him to get that gun from known gun-lover Dilton Doiley.
Chuck: Archie getting the gun from Dilton was the least realistic part of that episode. He could’ve gotten it from any gun shop in America HEY-OHHHHHHhhhhh actually I just made myself sad.
Andy: Yeah but with Dilton there’s no background check or waiting period and oh man I see the problem with lax gun laws now.
You Gotta Fight for Your Right to FP
Chuck: So with FP looking at 20 years, Jughead’s at the point where he’s willing to break his dad out of prison, which…okay. Instead he’s directed to go see Penny Peabody.
Andy: I can already tell that Brit Morgan’s Penny Peabody is going to be a fan favorite. There’s something about her performance that’s simultaneously both slimy and, I wanna say, sexual?
Robyn: I like that she is sure of herself and powerful, but like everyone else she is owned. She now has leverage over Jughead. For a kid that grew-up with a conman dad, Juggy sure isnt very street-smart.
Chuck: To be fair to Jughead, I didn’t get it either. Penny fell flat for me because the whole time, I was wondering why FP was going with a court-appointed defender in the first place when The Serpents had Penny on the payroll, so that whole storyline had a stink of artifice to it…until the very last act when it suddenly snapped into place.
Robyn: AND she has read his case. It’s an excellent point that there is no reason for her not to be representing him. I hope she turns out to be Better Call Saul-esque – always having connections and get out of jail free cards.
Stand By Your Magnificent Bastard
Andy: Is Hiram like drugging Hermione? I’m not 100 percent sure what is happening here but there must be a reason these two constructed a convoluted plan to own a small town. Maybe there’s oil in them hills?
Chuck: Hermione’s definitely under some kind of hypnotic influence; not, like Sabrina-esque hypnosis, but there’s a dependency on him that flat out changes her whenever they’re together. Her taking the heat for Hiram’s letter to Veronica that threatened her life was fucked up. Even under the assumption that Hermione puppetmastered her, Veronica’s line of “You two deserve each other” is so on point.
Robyn: This is honestly the kind of stuff that I hate in teen-focused dramas (and let’s be honest, most dramas). Hermione was interesting, and now she seems like a plot point. I presume that Hermione is trying to get back into Hiram’s good graces because she can’t make it on her own, and he must know about Frank.
Chuck: See, I think Hermione’s still a character; just one who, for whatever reason, has surrendered herself to Hiram, choosing lifestyle over self, perhaps because she’s dangerously equated lifestyle with self. But this is why it’s important to have a woman’s perspective on this; what I might find interesting, you might already be way the fuck over.
Robyn: I think it rings true. I also don’t have a lot of patience for ‘dutiful wife to the devil’, so that is very much just my opinion. Of course, if Hermione were fighting Hiram every step, that wouldn’t make for a very good story either.
Andy: I’m very upset they sent Smithers away and replaced him with a sexy new butler.
Meanwhile, at Ginger Gardens
Andy: Cheryl is apparently now doing Little Edie/Big Edie cosplay with her mother and they are just casually living in one of their spare mansions reclaimed by nature. This is fine.
Chuck: And yet, somehow Betty, for a brief, glorious moment, made Cheryl seem sane by catching her completely off guard in the locker room (literally with her shirt off) and demanding testimony supporting FP in exchange for the footage of Jason’s murder.
Robyn: I really liked Betty showing her more ruthless side, without the costume from the hot tub. It seemed that Cheryl had some respect for it, too.
Chuck: Yeah, at the end of the day, it’s not Cheryl’s fault she’s a weirdo. She’s living in a bubble, and in that bubble you have your own set of ethics and ways of unwinding, like dressage, and formal dinners, and watching footage of the torture and murder of your twin brother/son at the hands of your father/husband.
Robyn: Cheryl is back in control of her life and I am here for it. Seeing her broken was really hard, but seeing Betty have the upper hand in a conversation with her was gratifying.
“The lesson here is: Never try.”
Chuck: The fallout from the efforts to save Pop’s and FP are where this episode started to pay off, at least for me. First, let’s take a second to remember, with awe, that fucking cover or Kelis’ “Milkshake” that The Pussycats played at the benefit. Help me out: I still don’t know whether that was brilliant or horrible.
Andy: The doo-wop cover of “Milkshake” was certainly an, uh, interesting choice especially since it wasn’t even the full Pussycats lineup (Cheryl subbed in which is something I had a hard time buying tbh). I feel like specific song covers take me out of Riverdale’s time-displaced setting.
Robyn: I am with Chuck and am totally unable to figure out how I feel about this cover. Cheryl stepping in sure felt like a copy-paste of Veronica stepping in, though.
Chuck: But yeah, congratulations, Betty, you saved Pop’s. Oh, except—as Alice points out because of course Alice would point this out—it’s now a drug haven (Way to be discreet, Reggie!), the Serpents have a hold on the area, and oh yeah, Hiram’s generous contribution wasn’t so much “charity” as it was a quiet buyout.
Andy: Alice’s condemnation of Betty was so unfair! It’s not Betty’s fault that Riverdale is a jingle-jangle-filled heckhole!
Robyn: Alice has not been fair with anyone the whole series. Also “jingle-jangle”??
Chuck: And hey, the circumstances of FP’s case are about to be reviewed thanks to…hey, son, who was that lawyer you consulted? Oh. Oh God no.
Andy: Jughead apparently hired Baba Yaga.
Chuck: FP sure sounded like his son ran over a certain assassin’s dog when he was on the phone with him.
Archie Meets the Zodiac Killer
Chuck: Well, so much for The Black Hood having a personal vendetta against Archie. WE GOT US AN UNSUB IN RIVERDALE, BOYS.
Andy: I literally forgot Midge was in this but NOT MOOSE. MOOSE IS TOO IMPORTANT TO GO OUT THIS WAY.
Chuck: See, I had an instant crush on Midge the second she showed up, so her getting killed off like that—assuming she doesn’t survive from Moose taking the brunt of the gunfire—is as depressing as it is weirdly funny from the sheer bald-faced shock of it.
Robyn: It felt like a waste, but I understand if they used total no-name characters the scene would have had less impact.
Chuck: And honestly, what are you gonna do with Moose and Midge anyway?
Robyn: True, we do have a pretty extensive cast at this point.
Chuck: Can we talk about dropping fuckin’ Donovan over that scene? Because you don’t use 60s psychedelic rock on a CW show unless a.) you’re Supernatural, b.) you absolutely need to. Me? I’m gonna say that, considering Moose and Midge got gunned down in a car, this was a soft quote of Fincher’s Zodiac.
Andy: I won’t be satisfied until Archiekins is sweating while looking at cryptic symbols.
Robyn: I cannot stress how much I loved all of this. As a big fan of true crime AND the occult/magical shows, this got me, hook-line-and-sinker. The implication of Sabrina’s (Halloween?) arrival is my most-anticipated moment of 2017.
Your Stars of the Episode
Chuck: Reggie’s attempts at playing drug dealer were so adorable I have to give him a star for effort.
Andy: Betty, for calling Cheryl’s bluff through blackmail. You’re learning how to play with fire, Betty, and I’m loving it.
Robyn: The Punisher, again, for ripping off the Zodiac killer’s M.O.. Honorable mention to whomever picked “Season of the Witch” because I am fucking hyped about that, echoing last week’s Sabrina suspicions.
Riverdale airs Wednesdays at 8/7 CT on The CW. New episodes are available on The CW’s website in the US, Netflix internationally.